NEW CALEDONIA’S TRADE DEFICIT REDUCED LAST YEAR

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NEW CALEDONIA’S TRADE DEFICIT REDUCED LAST YEAR

NOUMÉA, New Caledonia (March 14, 2001 - Oceania Flash/SPC)---New Caledonia's notorious trade deficit was significantly reduced last year by a record 36 percent, the daily newspaper Les Nouvelles Calédoniennes reports.

The figures were released by New Caledonia's External Trade department.

The department noted that New Caledonia reduced its trade deficit to 43.5 billion CFP (US$ 325.6 million) due to 75.3 billion CFP (US$ 563 million) worth of exports in 2000.

Trade officials say the U.S. dollar had a more favorable exchange rate last year.

"The year 2000 was really excellent," said Trade Department Director Claude Colombani.

He projects that New Caledonia's trade balance will break even this year due to the expected increase in nickel processing plants.

The main source of imports is still metropolitan France, which represents some 82 percent of the French territory's import revenues.

Another promising sector will be agriculture and shrimp production, he added.

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